Christmas in Southern California feels very much like any other day of the year. The weather may drop down below the 80s and you may have to wear a windbreaker in the morning. The indoor activities are pretty much the same- playing board games, drinking egg nog, listening to traditional Christmas songs, and hanging out with family. It's the outdoor activities that are somewhat different. This year we had family from Sweden visiting, and they took a plunge in the swimming pool. Then we did a hike up to the Hollywood sign in our shorts. Good times, just different.
We spent our Christmas season in Southern California with family and saw this house in Los Angeles on our way after dropping off my daughter at the Los AngelesCounty Museum of Art, where her friend currently works. The traffic coming out of LA was typical, and we barely escaped a fender bender as the two cars in front of us collided. I am always very happy to return to the Central Valley, where things are much slower and the skies are darker at night. I do, however, enjoy seeing the architecture in LA, and we were fortunate that our phone map took us in a roundabout way back to the freeway, as it afforded us the opportunity to see some architecture we never would have known was there had we remained on Sunset Boulevard. There are truly some beautiful neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and I'm sure incredibly expensive to get into.
Fresno and Clovis are filled with good Mexican restaurants. I have not eaten at this particular one, but some day it would be good to try their huevos rancheros for breakfast. The restaurant was started in 1985 by Leoncio Garcia and his wife and can be found on Tollhouse Road, just east of Sunnyside Avenue.
This is a sight I see at least twice or even three times a week as I am filling up my gas tank. This particular station is often lower priced than other stations, and gasoline is now around $2.30 a gallon. I always find the large satellite dish atop this tiny building a bit humorous, but I suppose it gets very boring sitting in there all day long, and this gives the worker something to pass the time. This station is so small that customers are not even allowed inside. It contains a few items like soda and snacks, and some basic maintenance things, but for the most part it is just a closet, a type of guard shack for the station.
I'm not sure why there is a Grand Opening sign on this fruit stand, as this has been open for as long as I have been visiting Fresno, which is over 25 years. Perhaps because it has changed hands. This is a popular place to pick up fruit of all kinds, and the fruit represents a collection from one of the greatest fruit growing regions of the world, right here in the Central Valley. You'll find oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, persimmons, pears, figs, avocados, tomatoes, grapes- you name it, and all at good prices and grown locally.
If you've never tasted an In-N-Out burger, you need to know that they are famous for their freshness. My sister once worked for this business and recalls that the beef you bite into was walking around the ranch less than 24 hours before. The fries are made in front of you from fresh potatoes, the lettuce is is broken from a fresh head, and every ingredient is full of flavor and freshness. The key to their popularity is probably their simplicity. The menu is extremely small, with every time delicious and predictable. The workers are always friendly and helpful, clean and sharp looking, full of smiles, and ready to open a door or clean your table. This particular one is located on Blackstone in Frenso, and we occasionally stop here for a bite to eat after church on Sunday.
I have yet to try the sushi at this tiny drive-through restaurant. It is located very near our home, and I have heard that the food is good and the service friendly. I do enjoy sushi, so I will have to give it a try one of these days.
The front door of our house here in Clovis- a welcome sight at the end of a hard day or long drive. We bought this house two years ago and enjoy its simplicity and character. The house is small, but has an upstairs and pool in the back, which gets used for over half the year as the valley is known for it's very high temperatures. This is year our daughter is home after finishing college last year, and our son is completing his last year of high school and will probably head off to college next year. So this may be our last year all together. We removed the old carpet and have replaced it with wood floors on the lower level, which reminds us of our home in Germany, which we sold last year. And instead of a Swedish wood burning stove it has a brick fireplace, which we do use occasionally in the coldest months.
Autumn is Fresno is surprisingly beautiful. Having lived in Germany for so many years, I would have never suspected that the colors here would be so vibrant and long-lasting. The leaves on these trees were making a golden carpet that caught my eye on my way home. Driving home I can barely keep my eyes on the road with every shade of orange, red and yellow on both sides.
Here is the side gate of our house, showing just the top of our Japanese maple in its fall colors. Our yard doesn't have an excess of autumn color, as we have evergreen out front and large green hedge trees around our pool out back. This is the familiar sight you see as you go around the side to take out the trash cans or take the mower around.
This cafe is connected to two other cafes in Fresno that my daughter worked in a couple years ago. The pastries are authentic, as the owners are from Paris and bring over authentic ingredients. The facility is very clean and tidy and the food is delicious. The only thing missing I would say is the taste of coffee so predicable in France. The coffee here is suited to the American mouth, I'm afraid. Nevertheless, a visit here gives us a bit of the feeling we're back in Europe.